When Chouhan 'incited' Thomson

As the English bowlers put the Indian batsmen through the wringer on an overcast Friday at the Oval, a small gathering for­med around Michael Holding.

As a commentator, the West Indian legend was expected to be judicious in his comments. But as one of the finest purveyors of fast bowling, Holding would have secretly delighted to see his tribe coming up with a commanding show.

Quite naturally, his mind went on a time travel, to an era when pacers were the rulers of the cricketing world. So, who could be his pick among a pack of pace bowlers from the 70s and 80s. Holding didn’t have to think too much – Jeff Thomson of Australia.“I never bowled a bouncer at Thommo because I thought of getting a couple of them in return from him,” Holding said in his fruity Jamaican drawl.

“There was this instance when I went out to bat against him in a match. I just saw the ball till the releasing point after that it was just a blur. A couple of times I realised the ball was near me after it thudded on to my gloves,” said Holding, mimicking the way he faced the Western Australian.

“Thomson was really quick,” added a familiar voice. Sunil Gavaskar had faced some of the fiercest pace bowlers of his time without flinching even one bit, often without helmet. “Thomson never really swore at the opposition, but he cursed himself if he bowled a bad ball, and we never really looked at him in that mood for not flaring him up further,” said Gavaskar.

“I remember a match when Chetan Chouhan did that mistake of engaging Thommo through an eye contact. He hit a couple of boundaries and the players began to yell from the dressing room: ‘Master way to go’ and things like that. Chetan was pumped up and made Thommo all the more angry.

“I was telling Chetan to cool it off. Suddenly, Thommo walked up to Chetan and crossed on his forehead. Rest, as they, was history,” said Gavaskar as Holding burst into a deep laughter.

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